Chicken as food
Chicken is the most common type of poultry in the world. Owing to the relative ease and low cost of raising chickens—in comparison to mammals such as cattle or hogs—chicken meat (commonly called just “chicken”) and chicken eggs have become prevalent in numerous cuisines.
Chicken can be prepared in a vast range of ways, including baking, grilling, barbecuing, frying, and boiling. Since the latter half of the 20th century, prepared chicken has become a staple of fast food. Chicken is sometimes cited as being more healthful than red meat, with lower concentrations of cholesterol and saturated fat.
The poultry farming industry that accounts for chicken production takes on a range of forms across different parts of the world. In developed countries, chickens are typically subject to intensive farming methods while less-developed areas raise chickens using more traditional farming techniques. The United Nations estimates there to be 19 billion chickens on Earth today, making them outnumber humans more than two to one.
Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore
Some recipes are truly special. Not only are they delicious and comforting (a must!), but they also have a way of bringing people together in a meaningful way. This Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore is one of those recipes. It’s easy enough for a healthy weeknight dinner, special enough to serve for a dinner party, and is a recipe that, for me, is filled with happy memories.
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil plus 2 teaspoons, divided
- 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 medium yellow onion chopped
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar plus 1/2 teaspoon, divided
- 1 can crushed tomatoes 28 ounces
- 1 medium green bell pepper chopped
- 8 ounces sliced baby bella cremini mushrooms
- 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
Lightly coat a large slow cooker with nonstick spray. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium high. Season both sides of the chicken with salt and pepper. Once the oil is hot and shimmering, add the chicken in a single layer. Cook on the first side for 3 to 4 minutes, until browned, moving the chicken as little as possible so that it gets a nice sear. Flip and brown on the other side, about 2 additional minutes. Transfer the chicken to the slow cooker.
Reduce the skillet heat to medium. With a paper towel, carefully wipe out the skillet. Add the remaining 2 teaspoons olive oil. One the oil is hot, add the onion and cook until beginning to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar. Cook for 1 minute, or until the garlic is fragrant and the vinegar has reduced. Transfer to the slow cooker, along with any pan drippings.
Continue the recipe
Top the chicken with the tomatoes, green bell pepper, mushrooms, and Italian seasoning. If using chicken breasts: cover and cook on HIGH for 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours or LOW for 4 to 5 hours, until the chicken is cooked through. If using chicken thighs: cover and cook for 3 to 4 hours on HIGH or 5 to 6 hours on LOW. Remove the chicken from the slow cooker as soon as it reaches 165 degrees F. If desired, chop or shred the chicken (or you can serve the pieces whole).
At this point, you can serve the sauce right away if you are in a hurry, BUT, if time allows, this is what I like to do for the best-ever sauce: Uncover the slow cooker and let cook on HIGH for 1 hour to allow the sauce to thicken and the flavor to further develop. Just before serving, stir in the remaining 1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar. Taste and season the sauce with additional salt/pepper as desired. If you’ve chopped or shredded the chicken, return it to the sauce and toss to combine and warm through. Otherwise, serve the chicken pieces whole with a generous amount of the sauce on top. Serve hot over pasta, rice, polenta, or veggie noodles, with a big extra spoonful of sauce and a sprinkle of parsley and Parmesan.
How do you Thicken Chicken Cacciatore?
- My Tip: To thicken my chicken cacciatore, I remove the chicken meat, and let the sauce simmer in the slow cooker uncovered on high. After about an hour, the sauce will thicken, and the flavors will develop nicely.
- You could also add a cornstarch slurry to thicken your sauce. Remove your chicken, and whisk together 1 tablespoon cornstarch with 1 tablespoon water and 1 tablespoon of your sauce. Then, stir this mixture into the slow cooker and let simmer until thickened.
- 6 chicken thighs bone-in, skin on or off
- Salt and pepper to season
- 2 tablespoons olive oil (more if needed )
- 2 pounds (1 kg) baby potatoes quartered
- 2 tablespoons minced garlic (or 8 cloves)
- 1 medium onion roughly chopped
- 1 small yellow pepper (capsicum), deseeded and diced
- 1 small red pepper (capsicum), deseeded and diced
- 2 carrots peeled and sliced
- 14 oz (410g) can crushed tomatoes
- 14 oz (400g) bottle tomato passata (tomato sauce or puree for US readers)*
- 150 ml red wine (optional — substitute with beef broth IF DESIRED)
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
Continuation of necessary materials
- 2 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley
- 1 teaspoon each dried basil and oregano
- 1 beef bouillon cube crushed
- 1 teaspoon salt (adjust to your taste)
- pepper (adjust to your taste)
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
- 1 cup sliced mushrooms
- ½ cup pitted black olives
(OPTIONAL STEP): Season chicken with salt and pepper. Heat a small amount of oil in a pan or skillet. Sear skin-side down (if using skin on thighs) first for 3 minutes, until deep golden brown. Rotate and sear the other side for a further 3 minutes.
Stir to combine; cover and cook on high for 4 hours, or low for 8 hours, until the chicken is tender and falling off the bone.
Add in the mushrooms and olives in the last 30 minutes of cooking. Season with extra salt, to your tastes and serve.
Serve over rice, pasta or spaghetti squash.